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Adventure Tourism Gets On Track With Jiggernaut

A Christchurch consortium is on track to developing a world first in adventure tourism that mixes a love of railways with the exhilaration of speed in one of New Zealand's most scenic spots.

The concept is the brainchild of businessmen Derek McCullough, Wayne Alexander and Bruce Foulds, with creative engineering input from the Britten Prototype company that catapult the conventional railway jigger into a 21st century 'Jiggernaut'.

An early prototype version made its debut at the Christchurch Adventure Festival last year, and next month( March) four Jiggernauts will race on time trials on street tram tracks during the 2002 festival.

The research that has taken the idea from concept through prototyping and heading for commercialisation was helped by a $56,000 grant from Technology New Zealand's Grants for Private Sector Research and Development scheme (GPSRD), part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

Businessman Derek McCullough, who developed the original Jiggernaut concept, says there has been significant development work done since the first prototype was revealed last year.

"We've looked at ways of commercialising it to run on narrow gauge track, rather than the wide gauge tram tracks. The engineering brains behind the Britten Prototype team have been working on the drive technology and have also been developing the braking system, which has to work direct to the tracks," he says.

Mr McCullough's goal is to refine and commercialise the Jiggernaut, which will be used as the central element of an adventure tourism park at the Weka Pass Railway in North Canterbury's Waipara region. The four person Jiggernaut can be connected to other units for an exhilarating run through the Weka Pass.

Mr McCullough says there is an increasing amount of under-utilised railway track and he believe this makes excellent use of them in a venture that is a perfect fit with New Zealand's adventure tourism banner. He says the global adventure tourism market will drive demand for new experiences such as Jiggernaut.

The Jiggernaut concept is a world first and the consortium will licence its technology to operators.

-ends-


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